National Policy Says Building 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure will Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution and Make U.S. Globally Competitive
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 7, 2011) The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners today called for the passage of comprehensive transportation reauthorization legislation in 2011. As part of its National Transportation Policy, the labor-environmental partnership today unveiled principles for building a 21st century transportation infrastructure that will create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and pollution, and ensure the U.S. is competitive globally in the 21st century economy.
“Right now, America has a jobs deficit,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Revitalizing our transportation system can create the good jobs we need, not just in construction, but also in manufacturing trains, buses, cleaner cars, and trucks and their component parts. We need to take action now to pass a comprehensive bill that will rebuild our infrastructure, put people back to work, and make our economy cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive in the 21st century.”
The National Transportation Policy identifies key strategies for creating jobs, including passage of a comprehensive Transportation Reauthorization bill in Congress, investments in transit, rail, high-speed rail, biking and walking infrastructure, and steps to ensure that the next generation of more efficient and advanced technology vehicles are built in the U.S.
“This is the 21st century, but our transportation systems are stuck in the 20th,” said Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which is a member of the BlueGreen Alliance. “One of four bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient or obsolete, more than half the miles we drive on federal highways are on roads in less than good condition and our transit systems are stretched beyond capacity. This is a recipe for falling behind, not competing in the global economy.”
“We can put men and women back to work building America, get our economy on track and leave behind real assets for taxpayers and future generations,” continued O’Sullivan.
The principles focus on six distinct areas: modernizing infrastructure through a comprehensive, long-term federal transportation bill; making the current U.S. transportation network greener by investing transit, rail, high-speed rail, biking and walking infrastructure; building cleaner cars and trucks in the U.S.; cleaning up the nation’s ports and increasing the use of freight rail; and ensuring that jobs created by transportation investments are good jobs filled by U.S. workers through policies like Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and Buy America provisions. In addition, the principles advocate supporting our current transit system by offering flexibility in transit operating assistance.
“Transit is a fundamental part of any successful transportation system,” said Larry Hanley, International President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, a member of the BlueGreen Alliance. “It is important that we find ways not only to upgrade and add on to our current system, but to fund our current system. Making sure we have flexibility in transit operating assistance will keep transit workers on the job, fares reasonable, prevent service reduction or elimination, and ensure that transit-dependent individuals can get to where they need to go as well.”
The Policy also notes that America currently spends more than $1 billion a day on foreign oil and transportation accounts for two out of every three barrels of oil burned, producing nearly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. To reduce transportation energy and pollution impacts, the policy references recommendations from Apollo Alliance and BlueGreen Alliance’s ‘Transportation Manufacturing Action Plan,’ whereby increased public transportation investment leads to a larger market for American-made transit and rail vehicles and components.
“From traffic jams, filthy air, and roads in disrepair to slow or non-existent trains or buses, no one has to look far to see elements of a wasteful, dirty transportation system. We know the United States can do better,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a member of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Europe, and now even China, has figured it out and we need to improve to stay competitive. Better transportation policies lead to cleaner air, less traffic and more transportation options for our country’s diverse and growing population.”
“Improving our transportation system by investing in transit, rail, high-speed rail, walking, biking and smart transportation choices will help reduce dangerous pollution and make America a cleaner, safer and healthier place to live,” said Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club and Co-Founder of the BlueGreen Alliance. “Taking action now to create a transportation network that moves goods and people efficiently is critical to gaining the competitive advantage we need to create American jobs and to breaking our dangerous dependence on oil.”